Down to Columbia the Kentucky Wildcats must go today, there to face the South Carolina Gamecocks in the defining game of our time. Well, not really, but as with all SEC road contests, this will require the entire discipline and focus of this fine Kentucky basketball team. South Carolina is talented, and at times over the course of this season, has been downright excellent. Right now they are in a down cycle, but if you are ever going to break out of that, a game against the #1 team in the country would certainly be an appropriate time, and the comfy confines of your home arena an appropriate venue.
Essentials for victory
Get good shots — Kentucky’s shot selection has been feast or famine this season. A great offensive game consists of the right balance of inside and outside shots.
Defensive intensity — One hallmark of this Kentucky team has been strong defense, and good defensive intensity. That will serve them well against the offensively challenged Gamecocks
Low turnovers — South Carolina will turn the ball over. In order to maximize the value of that, the Wildcats need to do the opposite.
Attack the rim — One of the best places to score, particularly on the road, is at the free throw line.
Make the Gamecocks put it on the floor — The 3-point line, and a hot team from out there, are a genuine threat to Kentucky. They must force USC to drive it into their defense.
Rebound, baby — USC is an adequate offensive rebounding team, and Kentucky is a poor defensive rebounding team. Changing that would help the Wildcats’ chances.
This is always a hard game, and recent history makes it even harder. Kentucky must attack this game like they did at Alabama and versus Missouri, and if they do, the Wildcats should come out 19-0 on the other end. But Kentucky cannot take the Gamecocks for granted, or they will lose.